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Posts Tagged ‘imagination

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Neil deGrasse Tyson had a great perspective on when we might make use of critical and imaginative thinking.

This video clip is an example of finding lessons and distilling wisdoms from everyday life.

I found this video courtesy of a CNET article.

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I loved the video and the message it brought. I did not appreciate the rhetoric in the latter part of the article.

How many husbands and wives work so hard that they won’t stop to address moments that their spouse might deem important: an anniversary, a significant birthday or even a simple weekend away?

It’s surely worse now as we let technology make us permanently connected, when the one thing we really need is to switch off and be with those we love.

Working hard is not a pre-condition to ignoring one another. You can be a complete layabout or a disconnected hermit and still not mark important moments.

As the video illustrated, the important moments are also plain and uncelebrated. They are pockets of ordinary time you spend with a loved one.

Switching off the technology that connects us is not necessarily going to make things better. The way the message got through to the father in the video was through technology. We communicate with people at physical, social, or cognitive distance thanks to technology.

I get the message that the irony of being connected all the time might leave you disconnected from the ones physically or emotionally closest to you. But switching off your phone does not guarantee enjoying time together. Just as the body can travel while the mind and heart stay put, the body can stay while the mind and heart are far away.

I titled this reflection “Let it go” for two reasons.

First, we should remind ourselves how kids let go with their imaginations. They wonder and they wander. They explore and they make. As they get older, schooling strangles this innate capacity out of them and it does not let go.

Second, the kids grow up into adults who perpetuate old, unquestioned messages. Technology is not the villain. It is the tool or instrument we use to amplify who we are. There is no need to always switch off technology to connect with one another in person. Let that bias go.

Watch YouTube videos as a family and discuss them. Play video games and ask questions about characters or discuss strategies. Google together and debate what you find. Do these and you will see why I say about the old mindset: Let it go.

When the papers and MOE announced that students and teachers would receive free LEGO sets for SG50, those who cared cheered.

Others saw an opportunity to make money off the sets knowing that there were AFOLs (adult fans of LEGO) and other LEGO fans who would pay a tidy sum for the sets. Perhaps these fans do not realize that they can buy the sets after National Day or they cannot wait till August. The sale of the sets prompted the Minister for Education to urge recipients to treasure the sets.

My wife, who is a teacher, received her set before my son did. But that did not stop him from opening the set and building the Cavenagh Bridge. He also used his own spare parts to complete the Changi Airport control tower because each set does not contain enough parts to build all three.

Being the avid reader that he is, my son examined the booklet that accompanied the set. He was critical of this page.

His complaint was this: According to this page and his age, he should only build a Level 1 structure even though he is capable of a Level 3 structure and improvising.

My son is well aware that these are only guidelines and that practically all LEGO sets have age recommendations. But he has a point. Does having these guidelines create creative barriers? Does having instructions to build a certain way with set objectives stifle imagination?

Most educators who use LEGO know that it helps to start with structure and build towards freestyling. But kids already know how to build from their imaginations. It is adults that make rules and create barriers, and not all of them make sense.

The adults who were inspired to make the LEGO sets an SG50 present had a wonderful idea about soft selling the building of Singapore. It must have cost a sizeable chunk of taxpayer money, but I doubt many will question if it was money well spent.

But here is a free and more important lesson. We should be learning from kids how not to limit imaginations with levels or objectives. If they are to build their future, we should not restrict them to our past.

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This is a video from 2007 of Joshua Bell busking at a DC metro station. The background story is available at the Washington Post.

One of the questions that arose as a result of this social experiment was whether the environment played a role in people being able to recognize beauty or art. Yet another question was how often we stopped to appreciate these things in the course of our busy lives.

I have a slightly different takeaway: How do we recognize talent in our children, students or colleagues despite our rush to complete homework, syllabi or work so that we may nurture the Joshua Bells in them?

I think the image below offers a clue.

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I think that we need to look through a child’s eyes and see what a child sees. We need to start by seeing the possibilities, not the problems.

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